Friday, March 15, 2013

Scott 'no longer in mood to fly in ZAF choppers'

COMMENT - Tax the mines.

Scott 'no longer in mood to fly in ZAF choppers'
By Moses Kuwema
Thu 14 Mar. 2013, 16:50 CAT

VICE-President Guy Scott yesterday jokingly said he is no longer in the mood of flying in the Zambia Air Force choppers.

Speaking when he officiated at an Oxfam conference at Government Complex, that was held under the theme 'Middle income country defining, economic and political challenges and opportunities', Vice-President Scott who was sharing with the audience the poverty situation in rural areas where he has been to, said he was not sure he was in the mood of flying.

"I go round Zambia usually by helicopter but I am not quite sure today I am in the mood to take a helicopter anywhere. You stop over at a school and you see problems, and people asking we need toilets, classrooms, teacher's houses and road fixing," Vice-President Scott said amid laughter from the audience.

And Vice-President Scott said he had a problem with the model used by some non-governmental organisations in their analysis of the economic situation of the country because they were very weak.

He said some of the modelling of what was wrong with the Third World could be very weak.

"Recently an NGO launched an attack on a certain big industrial company that according to it, is not paying tax. There is more than one way to screw the country's wealth and the first way is over pricing due to monopoly strength. I have more documentation on Zambia Sugar's alleged monopoly pricing of sugar to the extent where Zambia has the most expensive sugar in the region even though it supplies all the surrounding countries. If that's true, then that is the first way to screw a country before you even get near to the tax returns," Vice-President Scott said.

He said Zambia had in the last few years not had a big increase in tax revenues, adding that the country had all the growth which ought to have been generating revenues but that these revenues were not there and that this was what was squeezing the budget.

Vice-President Scott said the economic success that Zambia had experienced over the last decade was done by the Chinese who produced the growth model for themselves.

And Vice-President Scott said the financial sector in the country was ripping off other sectors.

"The cost of interest is simply too high, in Japan it is about one per cent if you borrow but in Zambia it is about 30 per cent on inflation of six per cent so they bankrupt you if you borrow on those kinds of rates. We need to understand the way this free market economy that you extol really operates in a small country like Zambia. It does not operate according to the text book," he said.

And Oxfam deputy regional director for Southern Africa Elijah Adera said economic growth was a necessary foundation for reducing poverty.
Adera, who spoke on behalf of the regional director Laurie Adams, said his organisation was concerned about the levels of poverty in Zambia despite the country attaining economic growth.

Meanwhile, Oxfam Zambia country director Nellie Nyang'wa hoped that there would be an improvement in the understanding of the issues affecting the country at the end of the conference.

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